Report from Shanghai

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Report from Shanghai

Postby Tom on Thu Feb 06, 2020 7:55 pm

My friend Jarek Szymanski has lived and worked in China since 1990. Many forum members have followed Jarek's research writing at http://www.chinafrominside.com and more recently at Facebook, where he evocatively describes his wanderings through the ancient mindscapes of China. I'm not on FB, and so cannot read individual posts there. However, another friend was kind enough to relay the following post that Jarek made yesterday. With the panic over the corona virus prompting lockdown in Hangzhou, not so far away from Shanghai, Jarek and his wife must have contemplated what lockdown would mean for a city of 26 million people and made the decision to leave--his wife's job, his daughter's high school, his own travel and research and business--much earlier than they had planned (whether this is a permanent departure isn't known). "Pack three decades into four suitcases . . . " The account below is worth reading to give an indication of the mood and conditions in China as it responds to the corona virus pandemic. Jarek and his family remember the SARS quarantine and lockdown in 2001. It doesn't sound like the current conditions are any more pleasant.




Jarek Szymanski is in Shanghai, China.

Yesterday at 2:24 PM ·




Paranoia has been growing. After Wuhan, a coastal city of Wenzhou has also been sealed off. Now not only people from Hubei and Wuhan are being hunted, but those from Wenzhou too, if not across the country than in the whole province for sure. Hangzhou is under lockdown too, so are - to various degrees - all parts of Zhejiang province - which is second only to Hubei when it comes to the number of corona virus cases.
In many towns and villages people cannot freely leave their apartments. Only one person in the household can go out, and only once every two days - to buy food; special written permission is required.
It seems that the virus is less scary than the measures taken to contain it.
New regulations are being introduced every day. Heilongjiang Province has recently issued new laws - rejecting to undergo the quarantine means up to 7 years in prison, taking advantage of the epidemics to spread rumors aiming at overthrowing the government or the socialist system can be punished with up to 15 years in prison, infecting others and spreading the virus on purpose is death sentence... It's a part of Yanda - Hard Cracking Down - special legal measures aimed at getting the epidemics under control - but at the same time squeezing the already limited social and psychological space of the citizens. Even if the virus is the root of all evil, the measures only enhance the paranoia and hysteria.

Control freaks up there are having the time of their lives now.

Recently our neighbor complained that her body temperature taken at the gate of our compound when she was entering it (obligatory now) was 35.4 degrees Celsius; she got worried and checked it at home again - the result was 36.5. She was wondering why there was such a discrepancy, but the management of our compound has never responded.
However it got me thinking. What if the temperature was not lower than normal, but higher? She'd be put under quarantine, and in the process in close contact with many people - medical personnel, management staff, even other people under quarantine. The danger of getting infected would increase a lot. A suspected case could soon turn into a confirmed one - and who knows into what else. The consequences would be dire. Not to mention that your own nice apartment would be visited by strangers and sprayed with god knows what poison.
This actually happened during SARS years ago. That's why people prefer to suffer at home than be quarantined.
When you spend a lot of time at home, when a dangerous virus sweeps the country, many dark thoughts go through your mind. What originally seemed to be a holiday longer than usual turned into an unhealthy lifestyle, going to bed very late, getting up at noon, with internet as the main window to the outside world, and social media as the only option to "meet" and exchange views with other people. Everything under control and with censorship.
I noticed more and more lights in windows late at night, even when I went to bed at 3am. At the very same time I could still see people posting on wechat.
The decision was made. Three decades had to be packed into four suitcases.
Every day more airlines were canceling flights to and from China. Waiting for the day of flight had never been more stressful.
Last evening was a real rollercoaster ride. I could not find my passport, I thought I had left it at a bank that I had visited some days earlier. After hearing that the wife panicked completely and said she's going to have a heart attack. Soon we realised it was not my passport that was missing, it was hers. She found it in an instant.
Three hours of sleep later we were in a car taking us to the airport. Three of us squeezed on the back seats, two smaller suitcases occupying the front one. Tired, stressed out, feeling weak, perhaps sick... The mind was playing tricks already - or wasn't it?
The temp check at the entrance to the departures hall was OK. We felt relieved. Another one before the security check didn't show anything abnormal either.
We boarded the plane. The smell inside was so different than any of those in China. It didn't smell home, but the way home.
Two action and one sci-fi movie later we landed. We were not allowed to leave the plane immediately though. A medical worker with thermo camera took photos of each and every passenger on board. Everyone was asked about the destination. We heard people around us mentioning Uzbekistan, Frankfurt, Serbia, Poland.
And then we were finally allowed to leave the plane. With each step towards the arrival hall I was unloading all the burden that had accumulated in my mind over the last weeks. When approaching the passport control checkpoint I felt ecstatic. I'm writing this in the almost completely empty terminal of Sheremyetevo airport of Moscow. A sentimental Russian song is played quietly in the small shop. Its name is "Bread and salt". That's what the guests are greeted with in this part of the world, bread and salt, to make them feel at home. Rice and soy sauce would never work the magic.
The spring does not fear the iron hammer’s strike.—Martin LaPlatney
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby everything on Thu Feb 06, 2020 8:36 pm

His great writing makes it easier to imagine and try to understand and feel what people must be going through.

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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby .Q. on Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:08 am

Tom wrote:The danger of getting infected would increase a lot. A suspected case could soon turn into a confirmed one - and who knows into what else. The consequences would be dire. Not to mention that your own nice apartment would be visited by strangers and sprayed with god knows what poison.


Wait what? Why would you spray poison on sick people?
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby Bao on Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:00 am

Good write up. Many cities are closed. My wife’s hometown Kunming as well, the provincial capital of Yunnan. Because many people from Wuhan wanted to travel around the Chinese New Year and did so despite warnings, prohibitions and lock down. They’ve already bought tickets or wanted go home to see their families. That was more important for them than what the government told them to do or if they spread the virus. We had plans to spend the Chinese New Year there. Thankfully we didn’t.

Hysteria is big this year.
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby Trick on Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:52 am

I’m still in China. Huainan where I live is in Anhui Province neighboring Hubei with Wuhan.
On Tuesday my neighborhood was sat in what might be called an ‘semi quarantine’, which also happened around all the city. Only one person/household allowed to leave at a time, no restriction on how many times per day.
This action was planned to last for twelve days. I guess if no cases had been reported till then the area would have been seen as “non infected”

Early on in the week it was quite nice spring weather here, people where out in the compound area playing badminton, kids playing at the basketball court, and some kids “playing” with soft air guns(I think they are called?) , which seemed to be the most threatening thing in the neighborhood at the time.

But on Wednesday two cases of the infection in a family where confirmed in the neighboring compound area. The building was immediately sat under quarantine, only medical staff allowed to enter/exit it.
This also resulted that the few stores in the neighborhood that still where open for businesses had to close down.
But no further restrictions where made.

Then just a couple of hours ago my wife got informed by a friend a third case as been confirmed in the same compound as the previous two but in another building.
And by this, the restrictions of movement here is pushed up to the same as Jarek reported, only one person/household can leave the compound only once every two day.
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby Peacedog on Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:26 am

I had to return early from a trip to Thailand due to lung infection caused by burning season. While a disappointing end to an otherwise great trip, I'm happy it happened.

If the transmission vector for this is in fact fecal-oral as some groups are now reporting, it will spread like wildfire throughout most of Asia. I feel I got out of the region just in time.

I wish Jarek, and his family, the best. Relocating on short notice is tough.
Last edited by Peacedog on Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby Trick on Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:05 am

Not at all downplaying this corona virus, it’s serious. But anyway this is on today’s Yahoo headlines - https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/the-flu ... 01770.html
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby Trick on Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:26 am

.Q. wrote:
Tom wrote:The danger of getting infected would increase a lot. A suspected case could soon turn into a confirmed one - and who knows into what else. The consequences would be dire. Not to mention that your own nice apartment would be visited by strangers and sprayed with god knows what poison.


Wait what? Why would you spray poison on sick people?

For a week now we have people “spraying” some sort of Desinfektion water around every entrances around the compound, twice a day. I think it’s noting dangerous, seem harmless.
On the other hand one month ago now one of the areas stray dogs died after rat poison had been sprinkled in the area.
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby windwalker on Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:45 am

condolences to all families who've lost people due to the virus

Best wishes for those long term and short term expats who's lives have been affected
some posted here. Hard to leave a places that has come to be home....


having said this some may not realize in the USA

So far, 10,000 people have died and 180,000 people have been hospitalized during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to preliminary estimates from the CDC.Jan 31, 2020



Image

So how does coronavirus compare to the flu?

Deadliness

The severity of an illness can be measured by its case-fatality or death-to-case ratio.

In percentage terms, 0.05% of those who’ve had flu this season in the United States (based on the figures above) have died
from it.



Based on the figures so far around the new coronavirus outbreak, which causes fever and a cough, 2.2% of those with confirmed cases have died.


https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/ ... -symptoms/
Last edited by windwalker on Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:15 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby Ian C. Kuzushi on Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:19 am

Very powerful writing. It goes to show that the reaction can be worse than the disease.

My brother in Vietnam, where there are very few reported cases, messaged me last night and said that his school had been closed for two weeks, and there was talk of closing until March. The staff and teachers (including him) would not be paid. Very stressful times.
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby vadaga on Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:20 am

WuFlu sounds a lot worse than SARS...I was in Shanghai during SARS from like March-May 2003 and it was fairly well-contained.
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby LaoDan on Fri Feb 07, 2020 12:07 pm

It is too early to be certain, but preliminary indications are that this coronavirus may NOT be as lethal as SARS was (~4% so far compared with ~10% for SARS). We also do not know the specifics of this virus, but many viruses outside the host fall apart within hours in the natural environment, so I do not know that spraying disinfectants around compounds has much more than a psychological effect.
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby Peacedog on Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:32 pm

For a depressing, but relevant, point of reference the Spanish Flu of 1918 killed roughly 3-6% of those infected, however it ultimately infected roughly 1/3rd of the world's population at the time. And that was considered a pandemic.

I think one of the worrying factors of the coronavirus is the potential ease of transmission. Ultimately how many people are infected will drive the end view of what is happening. SARS, for whatever reason, did not appear to infect that many people or simply was more difficult to transmit limiting it's impact.

The general lack of transparency inherent to the Chinese government combined with what appears to the outside world as draconian measures for containment purposes is driving a lot of the current level of concern outside of the Middle Kingdom.
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby Franklin on Sat Feb 08, 2020 12:31 am

this is a bit surreal (as in hey that guy looks familiar)


a guy who was posting his own updates from within wuhan had gone missing--
https://qz.com/1798077/wuhan-virus-chin ... tine-zone/

and then i saw this video on the missing guys youtube-- thought he looked familliar
xu xiaodong ... did a live stream showing he talked to the missing guy's mom and the news is that he has been quarantined...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9K3Q0o1GGAM
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Re: Report from Shanghai

Postby Trick on Sat Feb 08, 2020 2:34 am

LaoDan wrote:It is too early to be certain, but preliminary indications are that this coronavirus may NOT be as lethal as SARS was (~4% so far compared with ~10% for SARS). We also do not know the specifics of this virus, but many viruses outside the host fall apart within hours in the natural environment, so I do not know that spraying disinfectants around compounds has much more than a psychological effect.

Yes, I’m a little skeptic about the “disinfectant” efficiency they’re spraying. However, when I arrived in China/Beijing just after the SARS thing, i remember they kept on with some “Desinfektion” stuff in the subway cars.

And how about these corona viruses, do they prefer wet or dry environment when out in the open(not found an host yet)?
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